While many golfers look to rangefinders and GPS watches for accurate on-course yardages, another sometimes overlooked device is available for this purpose: the handheld GPS for golf.
The Bushnell Phantom vs Garmin G10 shows that both provide basic yardage information, automatic course location, distances to the front, back, and middle of the green, and a host of other functions with some added benefits that a GPS watch or
Let’s tee off with these two outstanding products and see how they compare to each other and which is the best golf GPS for your game.
Golf GPS – Price
Price wise, the Garmin Approach G10 is typically a bit cheaper than the Phantom. Considering the features and compact size, either option is excellent value.
The Phantom has some unique color options, and if you don’t mind having your GPS a little more vibrant than the standard black, you might find it even cheaper and around the same levels as the G10.
If you are price conscious, the Garmin G10 will be the winner.
Phantom And Garmin Approach G10 Legal For Tournament Play
One of the first factors to consider when looking at a golf GPS device is whether they are legal under the current rules of golf.
The only time that a handheld GPS device, GPS watch, or rangefinder may not be used is where it provides slope and elevation readings or additional weather information like wind direction and strength.
The USGA did amend its rules in 2016 to allow golfers to use these devices with these features in tournament play, provided those modes were not selected, or the features were deactivated.
Since neither of these devices is equipped with any of these features, they are both ‘street’ legal, so to speak, and load them up and tee off!
Golf GPS Devices Features
First off, remember that no handheld golf GPS device or golf GPS watch will be as accurate as a laser rangefinder, but in general, the GPS watches and handheld devices are authentic within 3-5 yards.
This accuracy is more than sufficient for players down to the mid-single-figure level, as only beyond that would you require greater levels of accuracy. So if you are looking for accuracy to within 1 yard or better, then best get yourself a laser rangefinder.
However, Bushnell has been making optics for years now, and under test conditions, it was found that the Phantom was consistently more accurate on yardages and shots measured than the G10.
The Bushnell Phantom was consistently accurate to within feet 9/10 times and the G10 consistent to 3 or 4 yards 9/10 times. These test results can be seen here.
So if it is the accuracy you prize above all, the Phantom would be the best choice.
Size And Usability
One of the main reasons that golfers look to these devices over golf GPS watches and rangefinders is because they don’t like something on their wrist while playing or feel that the rangefinder is bulky, so the handheld GPS device is ideal.
Many golfers don’t consider that handheld GPS units are incredibly compact and practical. While this has a downside – that they can be misplaced or lost easily- both Bushnell and Garmin have taken every step to prevent this.
Neither of these units is touch-screen, and for many, the option to use buttons to operate their GPS unit is preferable as it is generally faster and doesn’t lag as some touch screen devices do.
Plus, you can use it without having to take your glove off!
The Phantom is compact and comes in at a 5″ x 3″ with a 2″ screen size. The unit is easily big enough to feel that you aren’t going to lose it quickly, and while the controls may not be the most intuitive but once you get used to it, the Bushnell Phantom is straightforward to use.
Like the Garmin Approach G10, the Phantom has a clip that will allow it to fit onto caps and belts, but it also has a magnetic backing so sticking it to anything metal, like the golf cart roof, means you always know where it is, and it is unlikely to fall off during the round.
The G10 is smaller than the Phantom, about half the size at 1,5″ by 2″, so with this unit here, the potential to lose or misplace it is a little more than the Phantom. Garmin has resolved this using a clip function, and because it is so light, clipping to your belt or cap will be hardly noticeable during play.
The Garmin Approach G10 golf GPS has four buttons, two on each side, that allow the user to cycle through the various functions quite quickly, and this may make the G10 much more user-friendly off the bat, while the Phantom may take some getting used to.
But, getting used to the way both operate, whether you have had one before or not, is inevitable with any device you get.
Both devices have black and white screens, but the Phantom screen is larger, and so from that perspective, the Phantom comes out on top for this category.
Both devices are rechargeable, and the Bushnell Phantom will run about two rounds of golf before needing recharging. The Garmin was rated at 15 hours but also required recharging after two games, so from a performance perspective, each is about equal in this category.
It should also be noted that while the Phantom does have a larger screen, the resolution is not quite as good as the Garmin Approach G10. Still, the Phantom does charge quicker than the G10, so if you forgot to charge it, you could probably get it to good battery life by charging it in the car on your way to the course.
On Course Features
Now we come to the critical aspects of each of these devices and the features they offer on course as these will often influence the buying decision.
Pre-Loaded Golf Courses
First off, Garmin’s devices come pre-loaded with 41 000 golf courses from around the world, and they can recognize and load the course you are on before you even get to check-in.
The G10 is the same with 41 000 golf courses pre-loaded; the Bushnell Phantom has 36 000 courses loaded, but if you aren’t playing out of the USA, this would not be a concern, and the Phantom also has an auto course recognition feature as well.
But, if you are planning to travel, then the Garmin Approach G10 would be a better choice as you will be pretty confident that any course you play anywhere in the world will be on the G10. For course variety, the G10 wins this category.
Golf GPS On-Course Yardages & Scoring
Both the Phantom and the G10 provide similar yardage features to the front, middle, and back of the green and distances to hazards on the hole for each golf course, but the Bushnell Phantom only offers yardages to four hazards.
Each has the auto-hole advance feature, so you don’t have to enter which hole you are on manually as you move through the course, and the G10 comes with a digital scorecard as well, while the Phantom does not.
Then Garmin Approach G10 leads with default on-course features as you get the green view feature, which shows the actual shape of the green. Plus, it offers stat tracking such as putts per round and greens hit, and fairways hit or hit missed.
If missed, you have the option to input the missed details, such as left or right, and all of these stats provide a comprehensive round analysis and insight into where improvements in your game can be made.
The G10 also gives hazard distances on all par 4’s and par 5’s, which adds another valuable dimension to its golf features and distinguishes it from the Bushnell Phantom.
The Bushnell Golf App
The Phantom comes with the Bushnell Golf App included in the purchase, and downloading it opens up a whole new range of functionality, including full-color 3D views of the hole and the hazards as well as distance markers.
Connecting to the golf GPS app is easy via Bluetooth and once connected, your smartphone becomes your view into the course and hole you are playing beyond what the G10 can deliver – but it means you have to have your smartphone with you and charged.
Using the app with your phone gives you a full-color visual layout. At the same time, the Phantom alone only offers numbers, and this option turns your economy handheld golf GPS device into a full-color large-screen representation of the hole and the course.
It also gives layouts on each hole, fairway distances, and yardages to doglegs and hazard layouts. The app will also allow you to keep score and track your game stats and get free course updates.
The G10 does not have Bluetooth connectivity, and while it doesn’t outmuscle the Phantom on golf features, this is one of the few drawbacks found on this handheld GPS device.
Garmin G10- Pin Placement Feature
One of the distinguishing features of the G10 golf GPS is its pin placement function that enables you to move the pin to whichever location it is on the green. This is an invaluable option for scoring shots on approach, and, surprisingly, Bushnell has not included this feature to make the Phantom much more competitive.
This feature will give you more accurate yardage to the pin, and that feature alone may be worth choosing this device over the Phantom as it does not have that option included on the device.
This feature is also found on most (if not all) of the more advanced Garmin golf GPS devices and is one of the more appreciated functions of the Garmin GPS device range.
Unlike the more advanced models, the Garmin Approach G10 does not offer Auto Shot Tracking, PinPointer, and Club Tracking. Still, it is important to always remember that this is an entry-level device, and you are getting a substantial bang for your buck with the features provided.
Bushnell Phantom vs Garmin G10 – Which Do I Choose
The answer to this will greatly depend on what features are more critical for you as a player and what you want to acquire a handheld golf GPS device.
The Garmin Approach G10 is cheaper regardless of where you buy it and brings more golf features to the party from the get-go, and this is probably why many of the reviews of these two devices tend to favor the G10 as it offers greater practicality out of the box.
Each of these has some great options and features, and if you need more on course features, the G10 is probably the better option as it does provide that from the outset.
However, if accuracy is the critical element for your game and you are happy to use your smartphone to elevate the on-course experience and data, then the Bushnell Phantom may well be in your sights.
Battery life on both units is equal, and an hour or two longer to charge is a negligible aspect compared to the course data and information provided during play.
Further considerations are the stats tracking, scorecard, green view, and green pin placement features that the G10 provides without a smartphone. This is probably more important than considerably more accurate distances for many casual and high-handicap players.
Both are equally compact, with the G10 being smaller overall, and the Phantom has a larger screen and the powerful magnetic clip that the Garmin Approach G10 does not. If a lightweight device is preferable, the favor goes slightly toward the G10 as you certainly won’t notice it on your belt or cap.
The Bushnell Phantom and the Garmin G10 bring the power of their respective global brands and technology to your game, and each will appeal to the different player’s requirements.
Regardless of which GPS device you buy, you are guaranteed to enjoy their guidance and usability on the course to make this challenging old game a little bit easier to play and enjoy.